Writings and Musings

Bob Frankston (bio)

Welcome to my writings.

If you want the primary essays check out the sidebar on the left.

Other essays are listed in chronological order and then by category. The main essays are in larger letters and minor documents (such as messages posted on discussion sites) are indented and in smaller letters. The documents themselves are located on this site (www.Frankston.com) and on www.SATN.org which I share with David Reed and Dan Bricklin. Documents on external sites are mirrored in case those sites disappear. In most cases the copies are listed as alternates and may vary a little from the originals.

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The best way to link to a document is as http://rmf.vc/keyword.

By default only the most recent posts are shown, to see:
Recent By Date Posts from the last few months
Columns Columns written in 1998-1999 -- blogging before blogs
All All posts -- hundreds

Writings and Updates by Date

Some of the recent entries are also listed on the sidebar. Secondary items such as postings on other mailing lists are indented. Note that the year shown is the year the essay was updated. An essay written in 1979 might be listed under 2009 if it was updated recently.

Year: 2014

Heart bleed Highlights a Contradiction in the Web - NYTimes.com 4/19/2014
There's a lot of magical thinking iin expecting systems to work simply becuase they are supposed to.IPList
Comcast: A simple remedy? 4/16/2014
We need to take a creative approach to new infrastructuredewayne
The Language of Smart Cities 4/13/2014
Another reminder of how much "smart cities" miss the lessons Jane Jacobs tried to teach us.IPList
Re; Comcast: A simple remedy? 4/7/2014
We need to take a creative approach to new infrastructure elaborateddewayne
HTML5 3/31/2014 PDF
HTML5 is becoming the very portable virtual machine that makes it easy to create and share rich interactive applications.
Yet more on Big Data...and IoT 3/30/2014
Big Data and IoT are exciting ideas but has the hype outstripped reality ... again?IPList
Spectrum as Farmland? 5/10/2009 (Updated: 3/10/2014) PDF
I can understand why the idea of spectrum auctions are so attractive to economists. But is it good policy? Is spectrum really like "40 acres and a mule"? Spectrum is not dirt.
The Internet of Things versus the Access Framing 7/14/2013 (Updated: 3/9/2014) PDF
The Internet is a technique for using any available facilities to exchange bits and implement relationships between end points using whatever facilities are available. There is no border. When we talking about "accessing" the Internet we isolate ourselves from the abundance by treating the Internet as something apart.
Comsos - Science and motivation 3/8/2014
We should applaud efforts to broaden interest in science. The reason science funding is often driven by the military is not because we like war but because we fail to appreciate the value inquiry.IPList
Thinking Outside the Internet 3/7/2014 PDF
In order to understand the importance of connectivity we have to think outside the paradigm of pipes or channels that characterized classic period of networking dating back to Shannon. The Internet itself is about borderless connectivity with the value and meaning outside the channels.This has strong implications for how we provide (and fund) the opportunity we associate with "The Internet"CircleID
The Internet Of Things: The Real Money Is The Internet, Not The Things 3/3/2014
Today's focus is on 3rd capturing value. We need to recapture the innovative spirit of the Internet by creating enabling technologies at the edge.external site
Re The myth of the fall 3/3/2014
Open source isn't entirely new. Sharing software has a long history.IPList
The problem with Netflix/Comcast is SS7 all over again 2/24/2014
Having Netflix pay for getting guarantees for their performance brings us back to the days of SS7 when one had to make sure that each service was built into the network. It is a very worrisome precedent.IPList
Re Streaming Video Isn't Playing Nice with the Internet 2/19/2014
Another example of what happens when we have an inherent conflict of interest.IPList
MAC addresses and Tracking 2/13/2014
We need to remember that many of the constraints we try to work around are simply engineering and policy decisions. We could revisit them rather than trying to work around the problems. The MAC addresses and the channels we use to communicate are just constructs.IPList
House to passengers: Shut up! 2/12/2014
Why is congress legislating the etiquette of airline passengers? WTF?dewayne farber
Heat System Called Door to Target for Hackers 2/6/2014
Yet another reminder of the dangers of perimeter securitydewayne
The Understanding Stops At The FCC 1/24/2014
Another reminder that the Internet is a paradigm beyond the scope of the FCCIPList
Routing (Packets) vs. Gatewaying (Messages 1/23/2014 PDF
Our smart phones are wonderful devices with many functions built-in. This is in contrast with the simplicity of the Internet in which we simply route packets of bits rather than having to wait for third parties for each message. I contrast the simple routing of packets with the complexities of gatewaying messages with service providers attempting to “add value” to our relationships.
Evolution and the Internet 1/6/2014
Understanding how systems evolve is as much about the Internet as biology. We need to understand that the Internet wasn't designed as much as evolved as we discovered how to communicate without depending on a third party in the middle of the conversation.CircleID

Year: 2013

Life (yet to be) Scripted 12/23/2013 PDF
The goal of "home automation" seems to write rules to control our homes (and our lives) as if we were setting rules for a very smart butler. But the real world is more complicated and computers aren't omniscient butlers who can read our minds and anticipate every eventuality.
The Framing of "IP Transition" Fails to Come to Terms With Real Impact of the Internet 11/27/2013
The framing of an "IP Transition' is an attempt to fit the Internet into existing telecom policy. We need a fresh start - a Department of Connectivity -- that can take a zero-based approach to connectivity policy.external site
A Permanent Slump? 11/23/2013
When looking at the changes in today's job climate we need to understand how various factors interact rather than just treating each element in isolation.external site
re My blog today on "Permissionless Innovation" 11/14/2013
Verizon wants freedom from regulation. But, in return, they would have to cede control of our common facilities.IPList
re How anti-NSA backlash could fracture the Internet along national borders 11/2/2013
Trying to control the meaning of bits is just more collateral damage from the NSA debacle.IPList
Trouble at the lab ... and beyond 10/22/2013
"Science" has been a very successful methodology but we must be careful when we use the word for the business of science.external site
Deconstructing “the Smartphone” 10/21/2013 (Updated: 10/22/2013) PDF
As exciting as mobile may be, the parts are far more than the whole. This excitement is understandable. The devices have evolved to the point where computing is personal and available. “Mobile” is what I call marketecture – putting together disparate concepts into a neat package that defines a market.
Smart meter deployments to double market revenue of wireless modules 10/17/2013
The use of a separate network for reading meters appears to be more about revenue than security or other concerns.external site
Re Let's Build a More Secure Internet 10/10/2013
A "secure internet" is like "secure copper". Security is a social/usage issue, not a property of the raw materials.external site
The End of History? 10/8/2013
Economists want to believe they can and need to predict the future. This can lead to policies that limit opportunity.external site
Good Koch/Bad Koch and the United States of Koch 10/6/2013 PDF
How does one reconcile the philanthropy from the Koch brothers with their opposition to the idea of public good?external site
Memes that define us 10/3/2013
Today's political debates and policies are defined by our use of words that we use in lieu of having to understand what they mean.IPList
The Wrist: Information near Your Fingertips 9/27/1993 (Updated: 9/9/2013) PDF
In 1993 I wrote about the importance of the wrist as real estate for information. After twenty years the ideas seem be becoming mainstream.
Why do we still have "phone companies" 9/3/2013
With VoIP telephony is no longer a network service. So why do we still have phone companies?IPList
Cox opens the gates to the country's largest Wi-Fi hotspot network 8/28/2013
The Cable industry is attempting to compete with cellular using engineering principles that no longer work.external site
Homeopathic Policy 8/22/2013
Just because we can "run the numbers" doesn't mean that the results are meaningful. Information theory uses the word information but excludes understanding. Just because 2+2=4 doesn't mean a Tutu has four legs.IPList
RE: [IP] re Google Fiber Continues Awful ISP Tradition of Banning "Servers" 8/14/2013
More reminders of how the disconnect between the world of broadband from carriers vs. the Internet's connectivity.IPList
The reason for gigapipes 8/1/2013
Perhaps the reason that Google feels a need for speed is that quick bursts drive ad revenue.IPList
Re : "The Future of Programming" talk by Bret Victor 7/31/2013
The 50's, 60's and 70's were very a innovative in software (and hardware) as we filled a new continent that had been opened up.IPList
Re OSI: The Internet That Wasn't 7/30/2013
History, like a fine wine, takes time to mature. The Internet represents a break from the past. We need to be wary about framing it in terms of networks and layering.IPList
The Fate Of The Internet Is The Story 7/28/2013
Decentralized connectivity gives us an alternative to the pipes that make it all-to-easy for those want to do us good to butt in.IPList
The Internet: Missing the Light 7/26/2013 PDF
We tend to think of the Internet in terms of high profile applications like the web. The future lies in those applications that aren't yet valuable enough to get so much attention. Yet today's Internet fails us for the simplest things such as connecting a light switch to a light bulb. There is no mechanism for stable relationships and the telecommunications business model works at cross-purposes with "just works" ambient connectivity.CircleID
re Kosher war over proposed .kosher gTLD 7/19/2013
Oy, the DNS rent-seekers are at it again as if nothing's been learned since the Domesday book.IPList
re TSA searches valet parked cars at airport 7/19/2013
Another reminder of "security" as theater performances at airport.IPList
(Not) In Control of your Home 6/24/2013 (Updated: 7/14/2013) PDF
Everyone wants to sell us tools to automate and control our homes but that won't happen till we have common protocols and open connectivity. (My April 2013 IEEE/CE Column)
Switching away from the horse-based transportation system ..... 7/5/2013
There is a lot of talk about an IP-based PSTN but the Internet is an entirely different concept from the PSTN.IPList
I now need to provide my SSN to print postage stamps! 7/3/2013
Another reminder of how much tracking there is. (also a follow upIPList
The Internet Is Designed for Surveillance 6/26/2013
The hierarchical implementation of the current Internet is an initiation for snooping. It misses the big idea of the Internet -- the escape from hierarchy.external site
Refactoring Consumer Electronics 12/24/2012 (Updated: 6/24/2013) PDF
Article in the January 2013 issue of the IEEE Consumer Electronics magazine. The concepts behind the Internet -- the best efforts exchange of raw bits -- represents a basic shift from a framing of electrons and pipes to one in which we can focus on relationships and applications. (The IEEE version is available here)
A counter-example to - "if you've done nothing wrong" 6/21/2013
Society depends on tolerating "wrong" behavior.IPList
Why Big Data Is Not Truth - NYTimes.com 6/1/2013
Big data can is useful but it can also be profiling and prejudice. Be wary of applying findings to individuals.IPList
Re: Risks of spreadsheets 5/31/2013
Evaluating spreadsheets from the perspective of traditional programming misses the point of their use for exploring ideas.external site
Re: The Internet is no place for Critical Infrastructure 5/31/2013
The Internet isn't a place but a way of using available infrastruture that is appropriate for "critical infastructure"external site
The Risks of Public Wi-Fi [sic] 5/31/2013
Public Wi-Fi access is typically about the web and breaks apps.external site
Another reminder that Google is a Telco 5/30/2013
Google "broadband" is still billable pipes.IPList
The limits of surveillance 5/20/2013
Cameras can invade our privacy while those we are afraid of can still hide in plane site.IPList
Bob Frankston
Copyright 1997-2012
Bob Frankston Site